Our View: We need more than empty promises 

Correction: Sarah Shield did not say she denounces YAF as an organization at the campus or national level. 

In our endorsement of Student Government Association presidential candidate Sarah Shield, we shared our expectations of student leaders: transparency, accountability and diversity in action. 

The Machine’s long history of circumventing these ideals is no secret to us at The Crimson White or to any idle observer of The University of Alabama’s campus politics. We have come a long way from the days of cross burnings, but the Machine is alive and well in the Student Government Association.

The Machine treats the Elections Manual as a list of suggestions rather than a set of rules, places overwhelmingly white and Greek students in positions of power, threatens student reporters with legal action, and uses its voting bloc to control elections. 

Shield has run a distinctly anti-Machine campaign and rejects the values the Machine upholds. The Crimson White Editorial Board initially endorsed Shield for her commitment to transparency. But as we stated in our original endorsement, valuing transparency isn’t enough; it must be coupled with consistent commitment to upholding that value. 

The day before the 2022 SGA election, a picture of Shield at a Young America’s Foundation conference in November 2020 resurfaced. 

YAF is a conservative youth organization “committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.”

For decades, YAF has been deeply intertwined with the conservative movement, encouraging students to engage in campus activism through conferences, seminars and campus chapters.

But YAF represents more than conservative ideals. The organization has been consistently linked to racism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and other harmful ideologies. This isn’t an organization of “freedom” or “tradition.” It is an institution of bigotry and extremism.

There is no shortage of headlines that expose YAF’S bigotry. From supporting anti- Muslim hate groups to funding white nationalist PACS, YAF leaders have revealed what the organization really stands for. 

Shield, a candidate who claims she supports diversity on campus, cannot easily reconcile YAF involvement with those values. 

Shield told The Crimson White that she participated in one meeting and attended the conference as a sophomore to engage with diverse opinions. It was an opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for free and witness national players in politics firsthand. 

Although the UA chapter of YAF has not risen to the abhorrent reputation of chapters at other institutions, the organization fundamentally contradicts the values of The Crimson White Editorial Board. 

We can not endorse a candidate who aligns themselves with YAF’s values. 

Shield promised to challenge campus organizations that are harmful to marginalized students on campus. 

But promises made the day before the election are hard to stomach. 

In the interest of transparency, Shield also informed The Crimson White that she was previously involved with another underground society on campus known as Argentum. This group aims to improve campus, but opts to do so in secret. 

As a newspaper, the existence of any organization that exerts influence on campus life without public accountability troubles us. 

Argentum does not have a voting bloc like the Machine, with only 32 members among its ranks, but Shield makes it clear that these are members whose involvement is known only to each other.

As an independent candidate, Shield is challenging the Machine, a century-old organization that poses an immediate threat to marginalized groups on our campus. UA YAF is an ideological threat to these groups, but the Machine has directly threatened them time and again. 

Shield is not a perfect candidate. But voting for the Machine upholds a tradition of white privilege and classism within campus institutions. 

We hold candidates to a higher standard than speaking about transparency and accountability — we expect them to demonstrate their commitment. 

Vote on March 8. Vote for independent senate candidates. Vote for Teralyn Campbell. Vote on the constitutional amendments. And if you wish to cast a vote for president, make it a vote against the Machine. 

Opinions editor Ava Fisher recused herself from this editorial.